The Sherpa Factor


As many have heard and seen there was an awful tragedy at the beginning of the 2014 Everest climbing season. Over a dozen Sherpa were killed and several badly wounded when a massive chunk of ice broke away and devastated the area between camps 1 and 2. My blog today is not intended to go over all of the activates and conditions at Everest since the tragedy, though it is very much worth reading about. Alan Arnette has a great series of blogs and updates and links to all the information that will help you inform yourself of those things. My blog is more general. It is about the Sherpa and the way their culture infectiously changes the life of westerners who have a relationship with a Sherpa.

In 2012 I went on my Everest Base Camp Trek with Mountain Madness. You can read all about it in the archives here on this blog. Mane Sherpa was one of our team’s Sherpa and I spent a lot of time with him.

Mane is the Sherpa on the left

Mane is the Sherpa on the left

He carried my pack, watched out for every step of my trek and even dove to catch my fall when I tripped over a rock. From the moment I met him at the Lukla airport, his smile was infectious! The smallest in stature of our Sherpa team, he did not lack strength and heart. As we walked along the trail he would  tell me “Stop Miss. Drink.” and he would share a snack and a drink and we would look around and smile. He didn’t speak much English back then and was not able to chat with me. But he still communicated what he needed to and always made me feel comfortable.

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On an acclimatization hike, mane leads me down to the Tea House in Namche Bazaar

Long days on the trail he kept my slow pace.

He never complained even though, at my pace, he would miss tea with his Sherpa coworkers and still have to do all his in camp work after we arrived.

Mane was working in the trekking industry in order to get enough money for a down payment on electrical power being installed in his house.

In addition to Mane, there were several other Sherpa and Sherpa on our team.  All of them working to make their lives in Nepal better. Not any different than people around the world who just want to make life better for their families.  One Sherpa was there because he could no longer farm because of the loss of his arm. He herded the yaks that carried our duffel bags and our kitchen along the way. An Ram Kaji our kitchen leader.

Our great kitchen boss Ram Kaji.

Our great kitchen boss Ram Kaji.

He feared that due to age he might not have a job for the next season and hoped we left good reviews for him.  He was not that old and it seemed he might be over reacting. But he wasn’t.

Before I ever went to Everest Base Camp, I followed the happenings on Everest. Several years prior, there was a Sherpa who was becoming famous and even one of the first to have his own company. His name was Babu. Working as a climbing Sherpa, he was about to set the then record for summits by a Sherpa. But taking a picture for a western climber, he backed up to get the shot and fell into a crevasse and was killed.

Memorial for Babu Sherpa

Memorial for Babu Sherpa

This memorial is prominent in an area of memorials for all people who have died on the mountain.

Full shot of Babu Sherpa Memorial

Full shot of Babu Sherpa Memorial

You reach this part of the trek after a grueling uphill from the river below. Mane was quite helpful the whole trip up. We were there alone and visited all the memorials. This one made me cry as I remembered the day Babu died and how that very day, NASCAR champion Dale Earnhardt had also died, bringing our nation to a halt. Yet this Sherpa man who had summited Everest 10 times by the time he was 36, had made the fastest ascent of Everest in 16 hours and 56 minutes and who had also spent 21 hours ON THE SUMMIT with out any supplemental oxygen was a small article in Outside magazine.  After My ahem… departure from Everest, I was in Hospital in Kathmandu and my nurse was a niece of Babu. She proudly told the story of her uncle and how he had helped her whole family with the earnings he attained from the notoriety of his achievements.  That is the purpose of climbing for most Sherpa. They cannot make anywhere near the kind of money climbing Sherpa do in any other job in Nepal. They not only assist their immediate family, but all of their family and much of their village in many cases.

When the tragedy of 2014 occurred, I got several contacts asking me if Mane was ok. There are different kinds of Sherpa jobs. A trekking Sherpa goes from Lukla to Everest, in the case of jobs related to Everest. They could be Sherpa or porters. They may be sherpa by job title or Sherpa by ethnicity. Porters are the “Truck Drivers” of the trail, hauling loads of unimaginable weight and proportion. Instead of truck and trailer, they rely on baskets and legs. their tires often consist of flip flops!

Porters carry heavy loads of lumber for building houses in the Khumbu.

Porters carry heavy loads of lumber for building houses in the Khumbu.

It takes brute strength and it means carrying loads and cooking and helping westerners who want their dreams to come true. It means long months away from family and friends, sleeping outside in cold conditions. It means often putting up with condescending elitists who simply do not understand that these men work hard and would do nearly anything for them despite the treatment they get from such clients.

Dawa, the Big Boss Sherpa of our team

Dawa, the Big Boss Sherpa of our team

On the second day of our trek I had been plugging along. Kaji was the Sherpa with me at the time. He helped me learn the rest step properly. He encouraged me along the way. He was a monk and also the only Sherpa with us who had traveled out of the country. He was often on his cell phone. Later I learned that there was a lot of communication between my Sherpa and the front of the pack. All the Sherpa were aware of my progress’s and each one was encouraging. Not a malicious bone in their bodies,. This job was not just a begrudging sentence to accompany us. They took very seriously the care and condition of each trekker in the group

Kitchen porter carrying loads to our next stop

Kitchen porter carrying loads to our next stop

The native mountain workers are the foundation of trekking and climbing in this region. Without them, most climbers on Everest would not be able to get up the south side of the mountain. Even in trekking, people like me ae better able to trek to EBC because much of what we need is taken care of by the Sherpa and Sherpini. Some of the Sherpa earn enough climbing to operate a tea house along the trek in.

mane and Me

Mane and Me

What ever the objective, the western trekker climber is not simply a a means to an end. For the most part, they are dedicated to doing their job well and they develop a relationship with you if you spend any amount of time with them.

The whole group at Base Camp

The whole group at Base Camp

I am proud to know some of the Sherpa of the Khumbu. They changed who I am in those halcyon days in the Himalaya.

 

 

 

 

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The 404 Trail


(Maggie and I have set a hike of Black Mountain as our monthly evaluation hike in working up to Machu Picchu. The goal is to be able to see our fitness increases gained over the course of the month and to assess what we need to do to ensure our readiness for our September trek on the Inca Trail.)

BMSTART

Post that marks the activities allowed.

 

 March 24, 2014. 5:30 AM. As I sit in my car, lacing my boots in the dark, it is not lost on me that just 24 months ago I was boarding a plane to Nepal to start what was the best few weeks of adventure I had ever had. It was also not lost on me that only 12 months ago, I was beginning what was to be the worst few weeks of my  adult life in watching my father’s slow death and in taking him home to be buried. And here I stood, at the parking lot of Black Mountain, getting ready to challenge myself in preparation for the next adventure.

I put on my headlamp

BMLIGHTS

Starting out and testing my red lights on my headlamp.

and headed out. It had been two years since I had done this hike, and I knew there had been quite a bit of trail development in the Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area. My lamp lit the trail well and for the first time ever, I also hiked with my iPod playing in my ear. As I walked past houses where people still remained warm in their bunks, I thought about how nice it was to still be able to just drive up to the end of the burbs and start hoofing it. Soon I was at the little water retention dam and knew that once I had put it behind me, it would not be long until I would be on trail and officially out of the suburban beginnings of the hike.

 

I trudged on thinking about how my feet were feeling, assessing if I had laced my boots well, if they were feeling good, if the iPod would last the whole hike and wondering if the coyotes were watching me in the dark. Every now and then the monotone voice of my MapMyFitness app would tell me how far I had gone. I had not yet left what was a service road and started to doubt if I had gotten on the right trail. The sun was starting to make an appearance and as I looked back down the mountain I could see I had gotten myself on the next hill over by crossing the front of the dam instead of the back. So around I turned and headed back to the dam.

BMSUNUP

Vegas on a Sunday Morning

 

I texted Maggie, who intended to begin after me and she confirmed my mistake just about the time I arrived back down the to the dam. Now I could read the signs and there it was. I needed the 404 trail and that is on the back of the dam!  I had eaten up so much of my lead time that I was mad with myself. I am less fit than Maggie and did not want to slow her down on her test hike. But it was what it was so I went around the dam and found the trailhead. I put my lamp away and started in, now with over 2.5 miles extra logged.

BMTRAIL

You will find this just at the far end of the back of the retention basin.

 

I hiked up and up and felt pretty good. Slow but good. There was nobody around on what is usually a freeway. A benefit of coming quite early on a Sunday morning.  I could feel the walk in my legs and I took note of a few issues with my boots and feet. This being the first real hike of the year, my feet are not yet conditioned and I knew they may be sore. I was trying a lighter weight boot too, and that may have been a mistake as the bottoms of my feet were getting more feedback from the trail than I like.

Around six miles in I had to start assessing whether to go to the top or not. I had burned a couple miles that I sure could have used energy-wise on my mistaken start.

BMSUM

Too far to go since I wasted my morning on the wrong path!

 

I sat down and ate a few nuts and seeds and drank a considerable amount of water. All of a sudden Maggie was there and we talked about how things had gone to this point. Given the fact she had not added a two plus mile spur, she was going to continue up. I decided I needed to head back because my feet were pretty sore and the left boot was throwing into pronation pretty aggressively. I had a small blister on my middle toe and could feel a hot spot on my big toe from the posture of my foot in pronation. So she went up, and I headed down.

BMMAGKAR

Maggie and Karen Meet on the Trail

 

MBSHADOW

It is always good to know when to turn back.

 

It was a long hike and I was a bit worried that it was going to really set me back. I hadn’t really planned on more than 6 miles and this was 9.5 by the time I was done.

MAP

MapMyFitness tracked the mileage.

ELE

NICE ELEVATIONS!

 

In the end, I was tired and sore but had gotten great information about what gear and fitness things I need to work on over April. Cannot WAIT until we tackle this at the end of April and see how I do then!

 

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Hill Training for Machu Picchu


I have been devising a fitness routine to get ready this 8 months coming up to the Machu Picchu trip. Because I cannot always make the time to go out to the bigger area of mountains near Las Vegas, I go to a park just three miles down the road in my neighborhood. It has a little “mountain” in it and there are trails all over. The nice thing is a little section that is steep that goes from, a shelter to the top. Not long, but the key is that is is relatively steep. I scheduled my Friday Mornings to go there and to do the steep section ten times.As time goes on I will add my weight vest and I will increase the weight IN the vest.

Exploration Park Peak

Exploration Park Peak

This Friday Maggie, who is going to Machu Picchu with me, and I set out to do our first 10 lap assault of the hill. I stopped and ate a big hardy omelet first and met up with her at the park. We headed out and told ourselves that we were going to embrace the toughness when things seemed hard. I noticed that there were lots of people out on the hill. With all the circuitous trails on and around the thing, it looked like a little ant nest. One person was wearing a bright orange shirt so she was easy to spot. First on the north side, then down below, then coming over the top as I ascended past her. About my fourth time up, she stopped me as asked if I had done the mountain before. I told her not as a training exercise. She said “Become friends with this mountain. I did and I lost 120 pounds and have kept it off for five years!” and off she went.

Later, we crossed paths again and she stopped and asked how many times I was going up and I told her 10. We chatted and she has MS…”the good kind” she said with a chuckle. She is being the best she can to suffer the least she can and now does 7 miles a day.

Dawn does 7 miles a day!

Dawn does 7 miles a day!

So off I went, inspired by her and what she has done. We parted with the knowledge that we would see each other again. Every Friday.

There were others too. They would see me and encourage me the way many did on the trail to Everest. We finally hit our 10th lap. It was great! Not the two laps I had scheduled before Maggie said she wanted to join me. So now, instead of adding a lap a week and getting to the ten lap goal in 9 more weeks…I am there now.

Planning Helps!

Planning Helps!

After we finished, we jumped into our cars and headed to TruFusion for a 70 minute TruFire yoga session!

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Communication is the KEY!


I just got the most heart warming email from Katie (Mani’s English tutor for a time last year).

I just wanted you to know that I got a text message from mane and it brought tears to my eyes. It was entirely in English, thanking you for the lessons and me for getting him started before I left. He is doing well- still at Dawa’s house (which, if you ask me, is a wonderful place to be). Anyway, you should know that you did a wonderful thing, setting him up for English lessons, that will go a very long way for him, particularly as a trekking guide. I’m sure you already knew that. Hope all is well with you. I am just dreaming of Nepal as always and hoping I get to go back! All the best,

Katie

Sent from my iPhone

So it is satisfying to know, that all of you have contributed to his enrichment so much!

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Filed under 2012 Nepal, 2012 Trek to Mount Everest Base Camp, Electricity for Mane Sherpa, Hiking

WE SAID “LET THERE BE LIGHT”….AND THERE WAS LIGHT!


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Our Sherpas

A year ago this week, I was making my final preparations to depart on the most epic adventure of my lifetime. I was excited and scared all at the same time, but two years of preparations were going to come down to what would happen when my plane touched down in Kahtmandu. You can read about the daily adnventures of the trip on all the previous blog posts, but one of the chapters is just finishing up, all these months later.

One night after a long day of trekking, we were just finishing our evening. The stove in the center of the room had at last been lit, and we were regaining much wanted warmth from the yak dung fire. Our Mountain Madness staff all came in…the porters, the kitchen staff, the sherpas and the yak herders. Each one of them assembled with us, all smiling at us even after they had worked a long hard day in addition to the trek in order to make our trip comfortable. Deana Zebaldo, our Guide, interpreted while each one of them introduced himself to us, told about his job responsibilities on the trek and then a little personal information. It was mezmerizing to hear these men speak of their lives in Nepal and their families. Most were farmers the bulk of the year, but worked in the trekking industry to try to get a leg up for their families. Getting a leg up meant taking an English class, getting more lumber for the building of your home, or paying for school for your children.

I was a slow trekker. Real slow. As a result, I was the last in my group and therefore always had a sherpa with me. Most days that Sherpa was Mane. a 24 year old man who was unmarried and lived in a house three days trek out of Lukla. He told us that one of the reasons he was working as a sherpa was because he was a member ofhe Untouchable caste. Because of this, when the power company was running power into his village, his family along with five other familes, were left out. However, due to changeing attitudes in the region, they can now get the power company to bring the power in, but it would be costly for them. At the time I heard this, I thought it was awful and figured it was simply cost prohibitive. I asked Deana how much it was going to take for them to get the power put in. She told me she would find out. I figured it was a massive amount of money. Not knowing much about the existing infrastructer, and knowing that anything that was going to be brought in to the village was going to have to be flown in to Lukla and then walked by porter for three days into his village, it was not going to be cheep.

A couple of more days passed with me bringing up the rear of the group. Each day, Mane was there with me, carrying my pack, stopping me to eat and drink…and always smiling.

Mane Sherpa dn I at Base Camp

Mane Sherpa and Karen A. Whelan at Base Camp

Finally, Deana was able to determine how much Mane and the other villagers were going to have to come up with to get the power in. It was around $2,600 dollars…not much more than my plane ticket for the trek. But for him and the others, it was a huge amount of money. It wasn’t something they would be able to do that year…it was going to take several years to save up the money. And with the corruption in Nepal, the price would change as they got involved in the process.

On April 8, 2012, Mane delivered me safely to Mt. Everest Base Camp at 17,800 feet above sea level. I had fulfiled my goal and my dream. I would leave base camp rather abruptly, so the picture above is one of my last moments with Mane. Though I have never seen or spoken directly to him since, I feel like he is an adopted son. I began to think more and more of his lack of electricity and when I got home, many of the people following my trek expressed their gratitude and admiration for Mane too. I started a fund and within about a month, over 40 people contributed to his getting power. The outpouring was humbling. We got all the money together and wired it to Dawa, the Big Boss Sherpa who was also with us on the trek and who would walk three days to Mane’s village to get things started. He would also have to walk three days home and stay two nights each way in a tea house. That is life in the himalayas.

Back home in the USA we were all waiting with baited anticipation to see the final product. The Monsoon Season was long and rainy, so we waited. But then we heard that Mane was heading the project up and that it was underway! So we waited. Then we heard that the internet cafe was closed in Lukla and there was no service to get pictures out. So we waited. (There is no postal service in the Himalayas, it is all hand carried.)

Then I heard from Sagar through Deana. Sagar is the man who takes care of all the Mountain Mandess personel in Nepal. He also took good care of me in Kahtmandu after my evacuation. He sent the long awaited pictures of the lights burning bright in Mane’s house! And as the trekking season begins, Mane’s family is at home without him, with lights to sit in the evening and enjoy each other’s company. I will leave you with the pictures and the thought that how something that looks so easy and simple and small has changed 6 families lives high in the Himalayas of Nepal.

mane5 Mane1 mane2 mane4 mane7 mane6 mane3

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Filed under 2012 Nepal, 2012 Trek to Mount Everest Base Camp, Electricity for Mane Sherpa, Hiking, Power PRoject for Khoriya - Mane Sherpa

2012 in review


The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 8,500 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 14 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Let’s Get Powered UP!


I am so thankful to the over 37 donors and enumerable supporters of the project to get Mane and the other families electrical power to their portion of the village in Nepal.  The trek to Everest was all about me and my goals and my dreams. But along the way, I got to see a broader perspective. The people of Nepal, though it sounds trite, really were engaging and uplifting. And none more than the mountain peoples that we encountered and those who worked for Mountain Madness as porters, cooks, guides and Sherpa to support our dream of going to Mount Everest Base Camp.  I have spoken a lot about Mane and all he did for me along the trail. He has a good life. Just much harder than anything we encounter here with our standard of living. I am not talking about poverty when I talk about Mane. I am talking about a life in a remote region where the terrain and the resources equate to no roads or vehicles. Not many good paying jobs. Not much in the way of running water or electricity. No grocery stores or drive throughs. Every place you go you do it on foot or a horse if you have one. remember, they have to eat too. What they can raise to eat, they do. They farm and the men go off to

A Woman’s Work is Never Done

porter, be sherpas or guides and the woman care for the children. Though they are just as hardy, portering everything they need in baskets held by their foreheads.

Kate is staying at Dawa’s house. She is my English speaking contact for the facilitation of the Electrical Power Project. She is also helping Mane learn English as he is also staying at Dawa’s in Lukla right now. It is a three day walk from Dawa’s to Mane’s village. Dawa lives at about 9,300 feet of elevation and Mane’s village, also in the Solokhumbu region of Nepal, is somewhere between 6,000 feet and 9,000 feet. It is difficult to find any data on the internet to tell me just how high it is.

Of the 35,000 Sherpa that live in Nepal, about 5,000 of them live in the Solokhumbu. The name of the village is Khoriya (खोरिया).  The village is small and has power to most of it. Soon, with the assistance of all of those who have come together to assist, Mane and the remaining 5 families will also have power. It will change their lives and make some things much easier.

As this project is heating up and I am in almost daily communication with Kate, I am also going to be helping Mane and Dawa with their English classes. English is a ticket to better jobs, more responsibility and as a result, a better standard of living for their families. For what amounts to a few cups of coffee a month, these guys will have access to the tools they need to make better lives for themselves. Kate tells

Truckers of the Himalayas. If it gets to a village, it was brought in like this!

me that Mane is one of the hardest working people she has seen At most everything he does. Yesterday she reported that he spent two hours after work studying and working on his English and wanted to do more! He is so excited about what we are doing. Thanks to everyone! I will report back with more news when it is available!

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Mane Power Fund Raising WELL Under Way


Because of all of you, this house of Mane’s will have power!

Last weekend I launched the fund raising project for Mane, my Sherpa in Nepal. I thought it would be a long schlog to raise $2,500.00 for the project. But it was crazy! Money began pouring in almost from the instant the fund raising began. 7 days later, we are at $2,045.00 with another $295.00 pledged! I know we will move the hearts of the people to finalize the rest of the needed cash. We have already had 34 contributors from all over the US and Australia!

I am in contact with people both home an abroad to ensure that the project, once the money is here, goes well and that the donations received are used in the way in which they were intended. I am personally working with groups here and in Nepal to be knowledgeable and helpful to make this happen.  But things are slower in these remote parts of the world for myriad reasons. Lots of difficult terrain and no transportation in the area beyond yaks and porters individually hauling things. To get from Lukla to Mane’s village is a three day walk. I am just starting the process of learning what will take place and will blog it all to keep you informed of the progress of your kind assistance.

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Please Help Me Help Mane Sherpa Get Elecricity


He was ALWAYS Smiling!

His name is Man Bahadur Bisworkarma. We call him Mani or Mane. He has worked this trekking season as a Sherpa for Mountain Madness, a trekking company out of Seattle. He lives in a village called Khorya in the Solokhumbu District of Nepal. I met him in Lukla when he was introduced to us among the other Sherpa that would be assisting us on our Everest Base Camp Trek.

One night we had the opportunity to spend time with the entire Mountain Madness staff. They introduced themselves and told us bits about their lives. By this time I had spent a lot of time with Mane. From the second day of the trek on, he assisted me to get to base camp. Carrying my pack. Encouraging me and always smiling that big smile. During this time of getting to know the staff, we learned that Mane is a member of a caste. That Caste is The Untouchables. Wikipedia tells us this about the Untouchables:

The Harijans or untouchables, the people outside the caste system, traditionally had the lowest social status. The untouchables lived in the periphery of the society, and handled what were seen as unpleasant or polluting jobs. They suffered from social segregation and restrictions, in addition to being poor generally. They were not allowed to worship in temples with others, nor draw water from the same wells as others. Persons of other castes would not interact with them. If somehow a member of another caste came into physical or social contact with an untouchable, he was defiled and had to bathe thoroughly to purge himself of the contagion. Social discrimination developed even among the untouchables; sub-castes among them, such as the Dhobi would not interact with lower-order Bhangis, who handled night-soil and were described as “outcastes even among outcastes.”

As a result, his family and five others were not included in receiving electrical power when power was brought to his village of Khorya.

The whole group at Base Camp

Social norms are changing some in the region and now he and other untouchables are getting better treatment. But there are harsh consequences to having been shunned so long. One is that he and the other families would have to pay a premium to get the power company to bring them power now that it has already been brought to the village. In order to get it there will cost what is insurmountable for poor Nepalis villagers who are not educated and still struggle in the work force to get jobs.

He kept me safe in all weather

Mane was with me every step of my trek. One day I tripped and as I was falling, he dove to catch me. Another he kept stopping me to get me to try to eat and drink. He smiled all the time and tried hard to speak as much English as he could to me. Those were longer days for him than any of the others because once I did get to our destination, he still had to jump in and assist with serving us our meals. He never got the afternoon rest and tea the others did because he was with me. Keeping me safe and walking.

Mane is a hard worker in a place where there is no shortage of hard work for low pay. We enjoy so much here and it is easy to take that for granted. He will go home at the end of trekking season and work the rest of the year trying to farm a few crops on his land, though there had been a difficult time over the last years getting much to grow. He will try to have enough money to go to Kathmandu and take an English course so that he will be able to advance in his Sherpa work. You see, he speaks very little English. In order to advance he will have to improve his English skills. That costs money.

Because of all Mani did for me, I would like to try to see what I can do to help him. We have had hard years here in the US with the economy as well. But If you have anything extra and are of a mind to help Mani and the other 5 families get the electricity they need just to do the basics, please consider donating. I have set up a donation site and anyone who wishes to donate can do so easily with just a

Mani was there clear up until I left in the Helicopter.

click. It is a secure site. Once we have the money in, it will go directly to Nepal so that the installation of the power to the Untouchables can be achieved. They will be more like the others in the village and will do the things we take for granted after dark…perhaps read, or stay up and talk without burning fuel for a light. The Donor page is right here.

Here is a picture of Mane’s house:

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Here is Mane’s sister in law:

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And here is the portion of his village that already has power:

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Exciting Action at Base Camp 2012!


Today we got up early and prepared to depart base camp. I was feeling ok and had achieved a dream…but there is a long way to go. My feet were tingling and my right hand was real cold. It had escaped my sleeping bag during the night and my arm had gotten a bit icy. Nothing really more than like when you are a kid and play outside too long in the snow. But uncomfortable none the less.

Mani was already gone from camp, so Nadja and Kadji left with me ahead of the bunch. The plan for the trek today was to head for Peroche. But the Heli Pad was finished and we were all headed there first because we were told a Heli was coming in. Big excitement for Base Camp at 17,500 feet up!  As we all

The Whole Bunch at Base Camp!

gathered and were told how far to stay back, I took a perch on Kadji’s back pack and was just right for the view. It was cold but as the sun came up over the high Himalaya‘s warmth immediately took over that feeling and it was quite comfortable sitting out on the glacier.

Soon we could hear the wafting of the Heli blades from far down the canyon. Everyone began to chatter to one another. The Heli came in, circled and went off. Then You could hear someone say..”no…..cannot go that fast….cannot go that fast…..”. Then the Heli came over again and made another circle and touched down. Everyone was covering their faces from the wash of the blades. The men jumped out and

And we lift off the Heli-pad

took off some supplies and then gave a signal. Suddenly, Kadji grabbed one of my arms and Deana the other and lifted me from my comfortable spot. Mani had my duffel and my pack and they were both tossed into the Heli just ahead of me. Just that fast the door was closed behind me and I was lifting off in what was the first Medi-lift of the 2012 Everest Climbing Season. My whole team was below me waving as I was taken from my beloved Glacier.

You see, what I did not tell you was that I was so exhausted and so low on O2 when I had arrived the night before that Deana, my Mountain Madness Guide, had serious concerns about me. She gave me options about walking out much slower, as our pace was to pick up over the coming days, and I had no extra energy as it was. That would leave me alone in the mountains with a Sherpaat Tea Houses as my energy allowed. I would miss my international flight

Leaving Lukla on second leg of Heli-trip

and have little support going out. That seemed like a far less safe way home than to be shipped out via Heli. Very serious stuff up here in the Khumbu. I borrowed a phone and we called my Brother, Joe, to let him know what was going on. I ate soup. lots of soup. But still was not able to really eat anything else. The food was so good, too!

My roommate had laid out my bag and pad and pretty much everything was done for me. I spent the night listening to the ice crack and the avalanches and knowing tat in the morning I was leaving on a heli and would never see or feel any of this again. I fought the feeling of failure and knowing that some would look at this trip in that way. But they didn’t have boots on the ground, up and down the mountains. They did not have my dream so they cannot end my dream. I was cold at times and could not get real comfortable, but that did not dampen the truth. I DID IT!

Mani Sherpa. I love this guy. He is strong and responsible and happy. He got me there. It is always the Sherpa when the going gets tough. Don't let anyone tell you any different.

As I looked at my team mates below and lifted off into the morning sky, I had tears rolling down my cheeks. I had not got to know them the way I would have liked. I was never with them during the long days to chat and joke and build the kind of camaraderie that they built together. And I could see it. I was not left out, it was just the way it was.

The end of the scariest runway in the world!

Soon I was at Lukla, where we had all been what seemed eons ago, though was only 8 days. I was confused since we were supposed to be going to Katmandu. But things are never that easy in Nepal. So I stood, feeling tired and weak, aside the heli pads at Lukla watching the planes come in and out of the scariest airport ever. No real protection between me and the planes and copters wondering what would happen next.

About two hours went by and the same copter that had brought me from the glacier whisked me up again and by gosh it was the ride of a lifetime! That copter hugged hills, buzzed roof tops and dodged weather over every hill and dale between Lukla and Katmandu. It was the longest roller coaster ride of my life and thrill does not begin to define it.  After and hour or more of that I was at the big airport again in Katmandu and a tiny ambulance awaited my

Ambulance time!

arrival. Along with my Mountain Madness man who rode with me to the clinic. We headed through the crowded streets of Kathmandu and the tiny siren tweeting atop the capsule was barley even audible in the loud and busy city.

But alas, we arrived at the clinic and inside I went to undergo a barrage of testing. Blood samples were drawn and and ECG performed. Funny thing that ECG. Giant Frankenstein like clamps were attached to each ankle and wrist. Then funny little suction cups around my chest. The paper feeding through the machine sounded loud as a chain saw. I felt like the machinery was right out of the 50′s.  (But I also felt awful and dirty having had no shower since Namche Bazaar.) The doctor ordered IV and some juice! So I lie in the bed in a funny little room that seemed to house two such beds with a separator curtain along with odds and ends of furniture from other parts of the facility. But it was clean and comfortable.

A nurse came to talk to me. She was a Sherpa woman. She went to school with Babu Chiri Sherpa‘s second eldest daughter. Her own father had died some years earlier leading men up Everest. It is common here if you are of the Sherpa people to have family on that mountain.

I spent the day sleeping the sleep you have when you are in a car. When the IV’s had run all of their healing juices into my veins they turned me loose. Sagar came and got me and followed my cab to the Yak and Yeti. I showered. Boy did I shower. I went and ate and came up to my room and went to bed. It was raining hard. There was lightning in the very skies I had just cone through a few hours before. I though of my friends in the mountains coming down and I was sad not to be with them. The rain beat down on the windows. and I smiled. I had done it. I had made it to Base Camp. I do not know all that it means to me yet, but I do know it means more than I can articulate here. Oh, and yeah. I am getting pictures in again. More later!

First bed I slept in for days~

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Filed under 2012 Nepal, 2012 Trek to Mount Everest Base Camp, Hiking, In Nepal